writer’s block

I don’t believe that writer’s block comes from a lack of inspiration. I believe it is a form of self-censorship, a deliberate blocking of the flow of inspiration that is always available to us.

Why do we block ourselves? I guess it’s different for everyone. For me, writer’s block has two main causes:

a. I am not writing what is true

b. I am afraid of owning up to my own words

I’m thinking that these particular blocks might be shared by others, so here are some ideas to help.

a. I am not writing what is true. To me writing feels like uncovering people and places that already exist. So it is possible to be ‘untrue’ to these worlds. Sometimes I am writing about a character in a way that is just wrong, wrong, wrong, and I know it deep down. Or I have decided where the story is to move, but I just can’t seem to get the words down. This is a big warning sign. A sign that I am not being brave enough or honest enough in my story-telling. A sign that I am trying to guess intellectually what readers will want rather than allowing myself to simply uncover the story that already exists in my mind.

Solutions:

1. handwrite a letter from one of the characters to anyone in the story. It’s a letter that they’re never going to send, so it doesn’t have to change the story. It will get you into your character’s voice and head!

2. Draw up a genealogy of your main character. Write a brief, intriguing history of some of these ancestors.

3. Go away from your computer to a new place. Shut your eyes and visualise a scene or some dialogue between characters. Simply let it play out like a dream. Your characters may surprise you.

b. I am afraid of owning up to my own words. This is a fear of judgement. I imagine a critical editor reading my work and disparaging it, or (even worse) an elderly aunt peering over my shoulder to read my sex scene!

Solutions: 1. This doesn’t deal with the underlying issues, but make your type into such a tiny size that you can’t see what you’re writing! (Strangely, it really helps).

2. Write in a stream of consciousness (this is also good for the first problem!).

Hope this helps!

Here are some other tips from Mahalo:

http://www.mahalo.com/How_to_Beat_Writer%27s_Block

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